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State Farm, A Major Tacoma Employer, Is Leaving

"Moving day for Russell" by Scott Hingst is licensed under CC by 2.0
State Farm Insurance moved to Tacoma in 2013, taking up a 12-story building formerly occupied by Russell Investments

State Farm Insurance is clearing out of Tacoma by the end of the year, the company said Thursday, meaning some 1,400 jobs will leave the city's downtown as local leaders name attracting employers as a top priority. 

About 600 employees will be transferred to company offices in nearby DuPont, while about 250 jobs will move to the company's headquarters in Illinois and about 150 jobs will relocate to Arizona, said State Farm spokesman Sevag Sarkissian.

In a statement, he said the decision "was based on several factors such as gaining efficiency through streamlining and improving processes, adapting to the rapidly changing needs and expectations of our customers, and optimizing available space in our current facilities." 

State Farm is Pierce County's third-largest private employer, after MultiCare Health System and CHI Franciscan Health, according to the Economic Development Board for Tacoma-Pierce County.

The company employs about 2,150 people countywide, not all of them in Tacoma. 

State Farm moved to Tacoma in 2013, taking up 300,000 square feet of downtown office space left empty when Russell Investments vacated for Seattle. The company's space includes a 12-story building overlooking Commencement Bay that once served as the Russell Investments headquarters.

At the time, local leaders hailed the move as a victory for economic development efforts.

"State Farm's investment and creation of 1,300 jobs in downtown Tacoma is one recent example of what investment in ourselves can mean," Bruce Kendall, president of the Economic Development Board for Tacoma-Pierce County, was quoted as saying in an economic-development study. Kendall could not be reached for comment Thursday.

State Farm's announcement comes as elected officials try to attract major employers to Pierce County, with the goal of having fewer residents commute to Seattle. Nearly half of workers who live in the county commute to jobs outside its borders. 

Will James is a former KNKX reporter and was part of the special projects team, reporting and producing podcasts such as Outsiders and The Walk Home.